Co-gendering: How males and females sharing rooms support patient care

Co-gendering means placing patients of opposite genders in the same hospital room. How does co-gendering lead to better care? We asked Hospital President & CEO Jean Bartkowiak to explain.

Q. Why would male and female patients share a room at the Hospital?
A. We are committed to using our resources in the best ways possible, so that all patients get the right care at the right time. When a person needs a bed in our Hospital, our priority is to place that person in a bed and meet his or her health care needs. Co-gendering helps admitted patients waiting in the Emergency Room to get the care they need sooner.

Q. Is this related to capacity issues?
A. We will mix male and female patients when there is a severe demand for in-patient beds and a room with a person of the same gender isn’t possible. While patient preferences will be accommodated when possible, our primary responsibility is to help the waiting patient get the care they need. Co-gendering allows us to meet patient needs by using resources wisely and efficiently.

Q. Is co-gendering considered Patient and Family Centred Care?
A. Yes. I understand that some patients may find sharing a room with a person of the opposite gender uncomfortable. We have to consider all patients, including the one who is waiting for a bed. Patient and Family Centred Care sometimes means prioritizing the health care needs of one patient over the preferences of another.

Q. Is co-gendering safe?
A. Absolutely. Patients’ personal safety was considered and will not be compromised by the decision to share a room with a person of another gender. Most hospitals place patients of opposite gender together, and research demonstrates that it is as safe as same-gender placement.

Q. Will there be privacy?
A. Yes. As always, all patient beds have privacy curtains.

Q. What else is considered when there is a high demand for in-patient beds?
A. There are other measures in place to ensure patients access the beds they need. Patients should know that they will be placed in the most appropriate bed to meet their health care needs. That may mean placing patients in the most appropriate room, regardless of insurance coverage. Patients may also be moved from one room to another, depending on the changing health care needs throughout the Hospital.

Q. Why is there such a high demand for in-patient beds?
A. Our Hospital has 375 acute care beds. A large contributing factor in Surge Capacity (a situation in which there are more admitted patients than available beds), is the number of Alternate Level of Care, or ALC, patients. For example, on September 27, there were 398 admitted patients. 79 of them were ALC patients waiting to be transferred to more appropriate care settings, such as rehabilitation, long term care, or home with community care supports. If the ALC patients could have been discharged, we would have had 319 patients, and 56 empty beds.

Q. Does this impact the quality of care for patients?
A. No. Our health care teams are extremely dedicated to providing safe, effective, quality care to patients. It is always the focus. I take this opportunity to thank them for their ongoing commitment and dedication during times of heightened pressure.